Arvo Pärt wins Polar Music Prize

The 2023 Polar Music Prize has been awarded to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

The prize, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious honours in music, will be presented at the Grand Hôtel in Stockholm on Tuesday 23 May in the presence of the Swedish Royal Family. Each Laureate will receive prize money of 600,000 Swedish Kroner (US$58,000).

Arvo Pärt is the world’s most performed living composer, renowned for his unique compositional technique, tintinnabuli, which he invented in 1976. His works have deeply affected the course of music over several decades and have reached a vast number of listeners worldwide. Pärt’s oeuvre includes many large-scale compositions for choir and orchestra, four symphonies, works for soloists and orchestra, as well as numerous choral pieces and chamber music. 

Chris Blackwell is the founder of Island Records, one of the most successful labels in music history, with acts like Cat Stevens, Roxy Music, Steve Winwood, Marianne Faithful, Nick Drake, Melissa Etheridge, Tom Waits, Grace Jones and Robert Palmer.

Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in international music. She has cross-pollinated West African traditions with elements of American R&B, funk, and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. Her music has won respect from her peers, expanding her following across national borders. Angélique travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill Ambassador. She has created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to supporting the education of young girls in Africa.

The Polar Music Prize was first presented in 1992 and has been celebrating the achievements of some of the world’s most important and inspiring musical figures for over three decades. Previous recipients of the Polar Music Prize include Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, and Metallica, among many others.